The opening three films of Whit Stillman’s directorial career are now all available on The Criterion Collection as a Bluray box set which includes Metropolitan (1990), Barcelona (1994) and The Last Days of Disco (1998); although, for whatever reason, I’m only covering the release of his sophomore effort - Barcelona - the follow-up to his critically-revered debut Metropolitan which garnered him an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
All aspects float between points of serviceable and above-average, yet Rubino fails to mark the original source material with any semblance of an original signature style of his own which renders the entire affair needless, in a sense.
The visual style of The Tourist is a shuffled deck of tandem suits - realism through hidden-camera-uncomfortable and soft-focus travelogue/introspection - in a back and forth succession as Sonnenblick’s inner monologue pulsates with a seething resentment and anger that, at first, appears surface level given his current situation before gradually revealing itself to be a much more deep-seeded operating mode. Though, Sonnenblick is able to periodically meld that resentment and anger into some genuine comedic expressions during his rambles.
The purview of the visuals consists of Akerman’s new residency, New York City; but, unlike city symphony films of the past wherein the experimental, poetic structure of the images are meant (in most instances) to enlighten the viewer as to the spirit and overall culture of the city itself and its citizens (which is still incidentally captured), Akerman inverts the intentions of these images by employing them as a signifier of her circumstances, the emotional landscape she finds herself in while attempting to carve out a path for herself in a foreign country, away from those she loves.
Doron Max Hagay is back with Chapter Two of his Monica the miniseries, picking up where Chapter One left off after the fruition of her HBO Documentary; new episodes are in post-production with streaming availability set for this spring. In the time being, Hagay has condensed the first six episodes of the miniseries into a 35-minute film.
The films of Jacques Rivette have long been a proverbial white whale for many a cinephile, that is up until recently when the majority of his oeuvre finally made their way to physical media formats with Out 1 recently released as a box set through Kino Lorber as well as a collection of his work presented in an 8 disc set by Arrow Films. Now, the starting point of his career, his debut Paris Belongs To Us, has found a home on the shelf of the Criterion Collection.
McDonnell fully immerses the viewer in the world of John’s of 12th Street, guiding the audience through the in-the-kitchen execution of the menu to the restaurant-managing of stock deliveries and discrepancies to the actual patrons themselves (the film even follows along on take-out deliveries). She keeps it simple (or at least gives the appearance of simplicity) letting the ambiance speak for itself while the community inside do much of the heavy lifting, most everyone has a story to tell (or an anecdote or philosophy to share) and McDonnell kindly provides the allure of an audience.
Angelo Pietrangeli’s name is not one that comes up all too often in discussions pertaining to important filmmakers throughout history to cinema; it’s barely one that barely even surfaces when those discussions limit themselves to Italian filmmakers, a name apparently lost through the decades buried underneath the constant praise of the works of Antonioni, Rossellini, Fellini, Pasolini and more.
The undercurrent of that romantic relationship percolates throughout the grainy 16mm frames, absence or reluctance of dialogue suggest a force of repression present, lighting and music also hinting towards untold emotional malaise. Deragh Campbell’s posture and movements speak a mixed language of downtrodden and longing, seemingly on the cusp of a timid revival with her significant other, Sam (Kentucker Audley), and on the verge of total collapse at the same time.
In what Morton himself describes as a “labor of laziness”, New Cops definitely has the look and feel of a half-hearted project come to that’ll-do fruition. However, the film does retain a certain amount of charm given the production model, a series of tangent strains weaved together haphazardly soaking in low-key humor. Never taking itself seriously, Morton’s film also benefits from a short run-time (clocking in at 52 minutes), staying ahead of the curve and exiting before the routine grows tiresome.
The release of Oshima’s Death by Hanging (1968) - on Blu-ray/DVD and Hulu Plus - marks the fourth installment of Oshima’s oeuvre to the Criterion Collection, the first of his work from the sixties (excluding the Eclipse Series 21: Oshima’s Outlaw Sixties box-set, which includes five films from that time period). In the chronology of his filmography Death by Hanging slots in between Japanese Summer: Double Suicide (1967) and Three Resurrected Drunkards (1968), while also being his second feature-length to focus and explore the tenuous relations between the Japanese and the Koreans. That’s a total of 9 feature films that have been released under the Criterion umbrella, not to mention the seven other films available by Criterion on Hulu Plus.
When it comes to the soul set out on display in Ry Russo-Young’s You Won’t Miss Me, the subject of ownership remains indistinguishable; working from a screenplay, co-written with lead actress Stella Schnabel, which appears to contain a number of illustrations of unmitigated truth interspersed with dramatizations of breaking into the acting business. Whether these naked portrayals free from pretense stem from Schnabel’s personal life (perhaps, playing a version of herself) or Russo-Young’s (or they may even be an assemblage of collected experiences) is irrelevant since both present the character of Shelly with such conviction and consideration they render her life experiences an unquestionable actuality.
The notion of a dystopian future is nothing new in cinema; its existence has been around for quite some time given that concept lends itself well as a fertile playground for both writers and directors in the realms of creativity with a vast expanse of narrative canvas brimming with potential, ample space equipped to house an abundance of imaginative furnishings as artistic latitude is awarded amongst the various departments. Anything and everything is available for construct with the ability of restructuring and/or inventing new operational outlines for a yet-to-be determined world.
Inspired, in large part, by her own experiences navigating the modeling profession in Los Angeles, writer/director Marjorie Conrad mines the painful yet somewhat amusing (and at times, slightly bizarre) memories of that stretch of time, familiarities - both flattering and unbecoming - stripped bare and presented for the world to see. Conrad appears to be introducing herself to the world of film through a debut biopic feature with the central performer being a version of herself reenacting the motivating sequence of events that inevitably led to the production of this film.